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Monica

REVIEWS & INTERVIEWS

Celia's methods may sometimes be unorthodox - it's her idea to assume the identity of Aliena and she doesn't protest Rosalind's idea to disguise herself as Ganymede, a man in a Robin Hood like ensemble - her heart's in the right place. As Celia, Jones is radiant and plays up generously to the crowd, smiling coquettishly at her fellow cast members just as much as the audience. We get the sense, from her performance as well as everyone else's, that they are genuinely interested in making the audience have a good time.

 ~ OFF BROADWAY, Reviewed by Cindy Pierre

As Celia, Monica Jones is a young, impetuous, and true hopeless romantic that wins over the audience from the beginning. Her previous experience with Shakespeare has turned her into a true pleasure to watch onstage: she uncannily balances all of Celia’s capricious qualities with a deliberate articulation. No matter how tongue-twisting or fast-paced, she gives a believable yet passionate performance that leaves no room of error.

 ~ Reviewed by Amanda Hakiotis

nytheatre.com q&a

 

What is your job on this show?
actor.

When did you know you wanted to work in the theater, and why?
In the fourth grade I was cast as the mean ol lion in "The Wiz". The crowd went crazy when I came onstage. Everyone seemed so happy after the show and I loved that feeling. The theater called. I answered.

 

Why did you want to be part of FringeNYC?
Are you kidding??? Ever since I moved to NYC, I have wanted to be apart of Fringe. It is such an amazing experience. It gives artists an opportunity to present innovative, edgy, ground breaking work. Why wouldn't you want to be apart of NYC Fringe???

 

Why did you want to write/direct/produce/act in/work on this show?
As an actor, this show scared me. That's exactly why I wanted to be in it! I play the role of a young girl who sees the world, for the first time, for all its worth. She goes on such an emotional roller coaster. Charly's writing is intricate and poetic. Its scary and absolutely wonderful!

 

Which “S” word best describes your show: SMOOTH, SEXY, SMART, SURPRISING?
Surprising. If I said anymore, it wouldn't be a surprise!

How important is diversity to you in the theater you see/make?
I might be very different than the person reading this article, in the way that I look, dress or talk. But my story might very well change their life. Theater can be a door to worlds unbeknownst to the viewer. But...only when we allow for any and every story to be told, by whomever is moved by the spirit to tell it.

or what she will

nytheatre.com review by Heather McAllister

 

The title of Charly E. Simpson’s play, or what she will, misled me. My expectations were entirely different than the world this play submerged me in. Twelfth Night, the Shakespearian comedy, is subtitled or what you will so I expected to enjoy a comedy of mistaken identity, silly disguise, romance, adventure and all with an ultimately uplifting tone.

or what she will is none of those things. It is dark, dangerous, and unforgiving. It reaches up from the bottom of a stormy sea and drags you down, gasping for breath. I left the theatre in tears.

The script is clever and strong, built around a quote of the novelist William Faulkner: “Memory believes before knowing remembers. Believes longer than recollects, longer than knowing even wonders.” In this instance it seems to be a reference to our bodies remembering what our brains want us to forget: pain, humiliation, fear and shame. Simpson’s tale loops and eddies, starts and recedes like an angry ocean of pain.

We meet our precocious heros, sweet twin tweens, a boy and a girl, “Faulkner” and “Willa,” who’s lovely and loving “Mother” reads them Shakespeare - but never Titus Andronicus, never Othello - only the comedies. There is a present and involved “Father,” and “Julie,” the cute girl next door. And there is danger, personified in “The Man.”

The direction by Illana Stein is fluid, theatrical and oh so smart. Movement tells us what words cannot express. Words can be our protection, or a weapon.  Books are strewn everywhere, roughly tossed overboard and washed ashore, frayed covers, broken spines, their insides turned out by this play. The characters suffer the same fate as the books they love. We discover along with “Willa” that your brain, no matter how clever, can’t outsmart your heart. Life is perilous, danger is everywhere, childhood innocence is unsalvageable, wrecked on the rocks hidden just beneath the surface. Those are the lessons I took from this play.

The cast, led by Monica Jones as “Willa,” are amazing. They are real, and raw, shocking and surprising. Heartbreaking in their honesty and each one a dark pleasure to watch.

The topic of horrors subjected to and by children is important to visit, so we can find ways to prevent them, of course. But it’s a very gloomy subject for such a sunny summer’s day. For me, even in the grimmest fairy tale I need a little ray of hope.

If you were born with the ability to change someone’s perspective or emotions, never waste that gift. It is one of the most powerful gifts God can give—the ability to influence.” ~Shannon L. Alder